Factory orders in US decrease on pullback in aircraft

May 2 (Bloomberg) -- Orders to U.S. factories decreased in March, restrained by a pullback in demand for aircraft that overshadowed gains elsewhere.

Bookings fell 1.5 percent after a revised 1.1 percent gain in February, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. The median of 61 economists’ projections in a Bloomberg News survey called for a 1.6 percent decline. Turbines and household appliances were among areas showing increases.

The report comes a day after purchasing managers said manufacturing expanded in April at the fastest pace in almost a year as orders, production and employment picked up, indicating the slump may be short-lived. Exports and consumer spending on big-ticket items like automobiles may be making up for a cooling in business investment, which means factories will continue to support the expansion.

“The manufacturing sector appears to be showing some impressive resilience in the face of slowing global demand,” David Greenlaw, chief U.S. fixed-income economist at Morgan Stanley in New York, said in a note to clients before the report. Nonetheless, he said, “the forward momentum in manufacturing is more subdued” than at this time last year.

Economists’ estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from a decline of 3 percent to little changed. The Commerce Department revised the February figure from a previously estimated 1.3 percent increase.

Payroll Estimate

A report today from Roseland, New Jersey-based ADP Employer Services showed companies added 119,000 workers to payrolls in April, fewer than the 170,000 median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. ADP’s initial figures for March showed a gain of 209,000, while the Labor Department said companies added 121,000 workers.

Stocks fell on the smaller-than-projected gain in ADP’s payroll estimate. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 0.7 percent to 1,395.56 at 10:03 a.m. in New York.

Factory orders minus transportation equipment rose less than 0.1 percent in March, the sixth increase in seven months, the Commerce Department report showed.

Orders for transportation equipment dropped 13 percent, led by a 48 percent plunge in demand for commercial planes.

Raising Production

Boeing Co. said it received orders for 53 planes in March after demand surged to 237 a month earlier. The world’s biggest aerospace company said last week it posted a first-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates and raised its 2012 forecast as it delivered more commercial jets while pushing production to record levels. The Chicago-based company is boosting output by more than 60 percent in the four years through 2014 to pare a record order backlog.

Bookings for durable goods, those meant to least at least three years, fell 4 percent in March, less than the 4.2 percent decline the government estimated in an April 25 report, today’s report showed. Demand for non-durable goods, including petroleum, increased 0.5 percent in March for a second month.

Orders for capital goods excluding aircraft and military equipment, a measure of future business investment, dropped 0.1 percent after rising 2.7 percent in February. The Commerce Department last week estimated the March decrease at 0.8 percent.

Shipments of such equipment, which are used in calculating gross domestic product, increased 2.6 percent after a 1.5 percent advance in February.

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